Friday, May 05, 2006

Animation School lesson 1/ CONSTRUCTION/ The Head


WHY DO DRAWINGS FROM CLASSIC CARTOONS LOOK SO MUCH BETTER THAN ALL OTHER CARTOON DRAWINGS?
If you are a young cartoonist who wants to learn all the secrets of great cartooning, this is your lucky day.


I used to watch cartoons all the time growing up and buy all the comic books of the same characters to try to learn to draw in "animation style".
Even as a kid, though, I could see that the drawings of cartoon characters in comics and on puzzles, TV trays, Golden Books and other merchandise seemed to be not as perfect as the animated cartoon versions. Something was missing.


I met a guy named Pat Lahey when I was 11 who also drew cartoons and he was more advanced than me and it pissed me off. Then one day I was at his house while he was drawing something and he showed me the greatest thing ever-The Preston Blair Book.
It was the best day of my life!

Use PRINCIPLES to draw better:

I was used to drawing straight ahead - I'd start at the top of the drawing and work my way down, doing all the details as I went. The book explained a completely different way of drawing - drawing by using principles, and building your drawings up by drawing the forms first, and adding the details last - only after all the major forms made sense.

I can't stress this enough: If you are a young cartoonists and are serious about learning how to make cartoons look like REAL cartoons, then obey me now!

Because I'm going to not only tell you about the Preston Blair Book-but I'm gonna guide you through it, fundamental concept by fundamental concept.

Save money and learn it right

You can go to animation school, spend a $100,000 and not learn a damn thing about the basics of good animation drawing-OR you can buy a Preston Blair book for $8 and learn it all in a couple months. Make the sensible choice!

Just about every cartoon being made today is based on the principles and style of cartoons made in Hollywood in the 1940s - Anime, Cartoon Network flat stuff - even the Simpsons. The only difference is, that some of the principles that make the classic stuff look so good have since been lost. The new cartoons are all a degeneration of old cartoons - a superficial copy of them.
Many of the artists drawing today don't even know they are copying - but copying wrong - styles and trends and principles of what developed from the animated cartoons of the Golden Age.

So if you learn the principles correctly now - you will be able to draw in any style today. You'll be miserable having to dumb down your abilities once you get a job but you will be in demand.

Lesson 1 -CONSTRUCTION - THE HEAD

CONSTRUCTION is the most important concept you need to understand.
It's like sculpting your drawings.

Step 1-draw the form of your character first - a sphere, or a cranium or whatever the form looks like.

Step 2- Draw center lines through the form both vertically and horizontally-
wrap those lines around the form in the right place. Don't draw straight lines.
right through the center. Not to the side - be logical! DRAW SLOW AND CAREFULLY TO GET IT TO LOOK RIGHT.

WHAT ARE THE CENTER LINES FOR? not for decoration.

They are guide lines. We call them construction lines.
They help you place the features on the forms in the right place.
Place the eyes on either side of the line in the middle of the face.
This sounds so simple that you probably think -" what's so hard about that?"

Use CENTER LINES right - DON'T CHEAT!

- A lot of cartoonists see constructed drawings on cartoon "model-sheets" and think "Oh, I see a cartoon drawing has all these extra lines crawling all over them.

Then they draw their cartoon picture and after it's finished sneak the center lines on top of the already completed drawing.

Thus, everything ends up in the wrong place.

Think of your principles as tools to help you draw more sensibly. You wouldn't use your fist to drive a nail into a plank would you? No, you'd use a hammer. It's a lot faster, more accurate and easier. Drawing principles are your tool kit.

Now look at how great old model sheets were:
http://klangley.blogspot.com/2006/04/more-tex-avery-model-sheets.html
I know you want to be this good.
Start practicing drawing the right way and maybe some day you can work for me or any studio you like.

Go Here for more of the rare original Preston Blair book:
http://www.animationarchive.org/2006/05/media-preston-blairs-animation-first.html
the original copy of the Preston Blair book was
provided to the ASIFA Archive by famous cartoon historian Jerry Beck of
Cartoon Brew.
http://cartoonbrew.com/

199 comments:

Anonymous said...

hey john, fanatstic stuff! I agree that classic cartoons look miles better.

Moving off the point, I read somewhere that the R&S ultimate set comes out 11th August. Is this true?

Lerms said...

I sometimes wish I had the opportunity to go to an art school, but now that I've been reading your blog, I'm glad I didn't waste all that money... Keep on being a great inspiration, Mr. K!

Saludos desde Tijuana

Jimbo said...

Im buying this book asap - looks like a great resource!

John did you ever work on the Mighty Mouse cartoon show?? I was watching some episodes last week and got a very strong 'John K' vibe from it..!

And you need a paypal donation link too - I would pay for the information in this blog with no hesitation.

Keep up the inspirin'!

Taco Jack said...

Hey John,

I picked up 'How To Draw The Looney Tunes' from Hennesey & Ingalls a couple of months ago - wondering what you think of the book (which is described as the handbook WB gave it's new hires to get them up to speed.)

JohnK said...

>>I picked up 'How To Draw The Looney Tunes' <<

Get your money back!

It's how to draw the corporate-approved licencing versions of the characters!

Puke on it first.

Aimee's Sketch Blog said...

Wow, I bought me the lil ol Preston Blair Book last month, but became a little discouraged. The tips you gave brought the info to life-- why it is important to use guidelines esp.

;)

David DeGrand said...

This was the most informative post I've read in a while, I have a copy of that book that I haven't looked at in ages but will certainly put it to use now. Can't wait for more lessons from the John K. School of Animation.

KenM said...

Wow, John, this is invaluable info. It's pretty amazing how generous you're being. I learned the center line principle back in high school (when I was interested in "Fine Art") but never realized that, in general, cartoonists would use the same technique. I guess I always thought cartooning required a "looser" approach. But I'm finding the opposite to be true. You've inspired me to try my hand at drawing some characters lately (and I haven't drawn in years, so thank you!) and it didn't take long for me to realize that I needed to employ this particular principle. Again, really great stuff.

MikeMatei said...

this is the most valuable post I have ever read on the internet. Cartoons today suck so hard its not even funny. I hope you continue to post more classic model sheets.

Sketch said...

Have you ever thougth about teaching?

Anonymous said...

An unbelievably good post! And the link to the original, best version of the Preston Blair book is worth its weight in diamonds! I truly feel sorry for any cartoonist who hasn't found this blog yet!

-Eddie Fitzgerald

C. A. M. Thompson said...

Yeah the corporate versions of the Looney Tunes you see on T-Shirts look horrible. Don't buy that book unless you want to make T-shirts for Wal-Mart instead freeze frame the best cartoons, they're a lot more fun to look at.

By the way this is a great post especially for the original Preston Blair book scans with MGM characters. Thank you for this!

Danne8a said...

John, Thank You.
I have been studying the Preston Blair book since I was 12 years old and you are absolutely right.
Most colleges today don't even bother teaching these fundamental principles.
I went to Academy of Art college in san francisco for about a year (majoring in 2-D) before dropping out on the basis that they do not teach any of the fundamentals.
Most of the kids today that graduate from this institutions don't have anything to show for it after spending thousands of dollars and ending up with a big massive pile of shitty gestured figure drawings!
THEY DON'T EVEN TEACH YOU HOW TO MAKE A FINISHED DRAWING FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!!!

So, once again, thank you for providing this info to people for free!!

S.G.A said...

YES!!!! If you don't have it , get that Preston/Blair book!!!
Not just for cartooning but drawing in general!!!
That book gave me such and improvement SOOOO FAST!!!!
The version in print now is about 25.00 and THICK!!! Worth every penny!

Stephen Worth said...

Hi Eddie!

(I'm going to try to emulate your suave response style!)

I'm glad that you liked my post on the First Edition of Preston Blair's Animation!

If you liked that, you're going to want to camp out on the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive Blog hitting reload over and over waiting for updates like an old hound dog waiting for a bowl of water on a hot day!

The second half of the book is just as eye opening, and I'll be posting that on Saturday. It includes animated examples from Tex Avery cartoons like "Who Killed Who?", "Big Heel Watha" and "Screwball Squirrel" which were totally redrawn as different characters for the revised edition.

Clarke Snyder at Inspiration Grab Bag is grabbing frames from these iconic Preston Blair scenes, so you'll be able to compare the drawings in the first edition to the way the animation actually looked in the films. And Marc Deckter at Duck Walk is scanning a few pages from the revised edition of Animation to compare to the first edition, so you can see exactly what Blair changed in the current release of the book. You'll be able to put on your Schnozzle monocle and DISCERN!

What you're witnessing here is internet history being made... We're creating a community of animation bloggers, all supporting and expanding upon the posts of each other. Between the scans of the book in the ASIFA Archive, John's commentary, and the examples provided by Clarke and Marc, people on the internet are getting a masters class in animation that they couldn't get anywhere else.

How exciting is that?!

Your pal
Steve

Anonymous said...

Walt Disney looks like a cleaner, less ugly version of Sean Penn.

"They’re not “hymn” (him) books, they’re “his” books!"

fluffy said...

The guide lines have always made intuitive sense to me and I'm amazed that people would only see them as a thing which is there because cartoon model sheets have them.

Sadly, guide lines are about the only thing I do right. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

Walt Disney looks like a cleaner, less ugly version of Sean Penn.

"I wanna drink "stop sign" juice! It's juice made outta stop signs!"

Anonymous said...

Sorry I repeated that last comment...

jorge garrido said...

Notice Preston Blairs' idiot character have low baggy pants? I feel insulted! Ha-yuck!

Evan said...

that preston blair book is like 6 dollars (or at least it was when i bought it) on amazon used. theres no reason not to get it.

jorge garrido said...

BEST POST EVER!! HOLY CRAP!!! HOLY CRAP!! HOLY CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THANK YOU, Steve, Jerry & John for this!!!

Anonymous said...

Dammit! Nobody's paying any attention to my posts!
(I'm the one who posted the Walt Disney comment and the song lyrics)

JohnK said...

>> The version in print now is about 25.00 and THICK!!! Worth every penny!

<<

Don't get that one!!

Get the $8 one with the yellow color.

jorge garrido said...

>>>What you're witnessing here is internet history being made... We're creating a community of animation bloggers, all supporting and expanding upon the posts of each other. Between the scans of the book in the ASIFA Archive, John's commentary, and the examples provided by Clarke and Marc, people on the internet are getting a masters class in animation that they couldn't get anywhere else.

I love this idea! A centralized network that references others blogs and every helps one anohter in the pursuit of cartoon knowledge! Its like corporate synergy except for the opposite goal of corporations: Creativity, artistic freedom, and love of cartoons!

JohnK said...

>>Between the scans of the book in the ASIFA Archive, John's commentary, and the examples provided by Clarke and Marc, people on the internet are getting a masters class<<

Hey Steve, thanks. You forgot Duck Dodgers. His site has more frame grabs from classic cartoons than anybody'!

Everyone should go there and copy the drawings to improve your own work.

http://classiccartoons.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Hey! What in the hell happened to the lyrics I posted?!?

Anonymous said...

This post is so great. I can't believe how much I'm learning from this site!

To John and to EVERYONE!

HEY!!

I made a short movie (35 minutes) about a very bad cartoonist. I think the people who frequent this blog would really like it and get a lot out of it!

It's called "Tim Warner: A Life in the Clouds" and it was just put up on IFILM!!

http://www.ifilm.com/ifilmdetail/2723046?htv=12

or maybe this link will work..

my movie!


Me and my friends are so proud of this movie and we want all cartoonists and cartoon fans to see it!

Its mainly about a passionless cartoonist and a search for meaning in his bad cartoons.


I hope you watch it! I'm sorry to use the comments for self promotion, but you guys would be such a perfect audience for this film.

Bookmark it and watch it some time!

-Jordan
www.timwarnermovie.com (official website)

John said...

You should really write a book. I've been following your blog for a couple of months now, and it has helped me to no end. Probably the part that helped me most was your lack of text-book lingo. And all the verbal abuse you throw towards cartoonists of today. All of it meshes together to be the greatest lesson in art that I have ever recieved.

Joel Bryan said...

The Preston Blair book has a blue bar at the top that reads "Animation 1" and then some drawings of a skipping squirrel on the front cover now... the yellow cover is reproduced inside but other than that, it's the exact same book. "Walter Foster HT26."

I've got 'em both, the original and the current edition.

If anybody's wondering where to get it- just go to Hobby Lobby or one of those massive arts & crafts stores with art supply/book sections and look until you find it.

I paid $7.88 for it, and I'm lugging it all the way to Japan in 2 weeks. That's how much I value it!

Plus, it's just fun to draw like that and imagine I'm creating some crazy crap for Bob Clampett or Tex Avery or one of those old guys.

Leafy Snout said...

What is the difference between the "Cartoon Animation: Collector's Series" book, and the, "Cartooning: Animation 1" book?

Anonymous said...

"Am I the only one here with poor social skills?"

Anonymous said...

Hey! Who keeps adding quotes to my posts?!?

Stephen Worth said...

There were two Preston Blair books on animation under Walter Foster publishing. They are now titled Animation 1 and Animation 2. They combined them into a paperback called Collector's Series.

Animation 1 is the bible. It has everything you need to know.

Animation 2 has good pictures, but it isn't nearly as clear and well organized. It might be a little confusing to beginners

The Collectors Series is a book... It won't lay flat on your drawing board the way the staple bound folios do. It has a bunch of stuff you don't need.

There's a link to buy the right one on the Animation Archive blog at the bottom of the post.

See ya
Steve

ke said...

We had similar books in my elementary school. "How to draw a..." books. I liked Superheros best. I wonder if they were based off of these?

Hey, John, do you read any webcomics? Would you link them if you did?

Anonymous said...

oggy and the cockroaches

Rob Bodnar said...

Thanks, for the tips. I ordered the book to improve and to learn.

Duck Dodgers said...

John K said....

Hey Steve, thanks. You forgot Duck Dodgers. His site has more frame grabs from classic cartoons than anybody'!

Everyone should go there and copy the drawings to improve your own work.

http://classiccartoons.blogspot.com/

Thanks, John!
I'll try to update my blog with more goodies in the next days.

Shawn said...

I got that book when I was 9 years old, and I still have it today! Before I got that book, I drew pretty good characters (for my age), but AFTER I got that book, all the other 9 year old girls at school wanted to DO me! Too bad all the girls who want to do me NOW are still 9. I keed...I keed!

So, John!
If someone wants to work at Spumco, what do you look for in a portfolio? Well constructed cartoon characters, or some life-drawings, or what?

Ren and Stimpy 2600 said...

Hey John, come check out this pic, its really funny. Go to www.cartoonist22700.com




Jared Smith

Kevin said...

I feel privileged to be part of this online community. It's like we're all in on something special that not a lot of people know about. i love hearing what everyone has to say about the topics, and it's great that everyone listens to eachother.

Duck Dodgers really does have some great stuff on his site. Good job, man.

P.C. unfunny said...

The re-print is called "animation 1" with a bunch of Squirrels on it,an ugly cover but it's the same book,as matter of fact, the original cover is inside.

P.C. Unfunny said...

Get your money back!

It's how to draw the corporate-approved licencing versions of the characters!

Puke on it first.

Ditto,if you want to draw the LT gang,find images of when they were at there best,the 1940's

Frank M Hansen said...

Thank you John. I ans I'm sure so many others have this book, but have failed to really take full advantage of it. Thank you for showing us why it is such an awesome book.

Bearuh said...

cool thanks for the tips.. I am sure you would be highly dissapointed in my cartoons that I just posted though.. they are stick people lol... but someday I will have the time to do more!!!

Dr.Awkward said...

Hey, have you guys ever hear of this guy Bruce Blitz, who had that TV show? Feel free to comment.

Dave_the_Turnip said...

John, i'm writing to thank you for this blog being such a valuable resource. I wasted the money at one of those high price animation schools. I dropped out for various reasons, but one was they were too orientated towards 3d animation while i wanted to learn how to animate like early Warner Bros, Ren & Stimpy and the Simpsons.

I'm now working on drawing and animating in my own time and i enjoy checking this site daily for tips, insight and links to classic cartoons.

Incidentally, one of the books that helped me to draw as a kid/teenager was How to Draw Cartoons by Christopher Hart. Looking at the Preston Blair pages at the animation archive, it seems a lot of ideas in Hart's book are lifted from Blairs.

Keep up the good work!

Chet said...

hey john is this pretty much the same book as the re issued version?

Kevin Langley said...

Great post. I've been spending more time with my sketchbook practicing the same principles you're preaching. Thanks for the link, I hope everyone's saving those model sheets, they're a great a resource too.

Jeffrey L Espana said...

Awesome drawing blog

Anonymous said...

>>>Hey, have you guys ever hear of this guy Bruce Blitz, who had that TV show? Feel free to comment. <<<

Oh, yeah! I had a special Blitz "how to cartoon" kit when I was a kid. I wonder if it's still somewhere in my house, hidden away in one of the messy closets...

Anonymous said...

a nice post, but it kinda plays like one of those spam e-mails you get every day, that are basically 3 pages of a guy telling you how great your life will be once you get your [new penis|consolidated debt|viagra online|morgage rates], and never tell you how or wtf they're talking about (I don't even know what half of that stuff is). Anyway, once it gets to the content part, it's cool.

David Germain said...

>>I picked up 'How To Draw The Looney Tunes' <<

Get your money back!

It's how to draw the corporate-approved licencing versions of the characters!

Puke on it first.


Yeah, one of the teachers at my animation school brought that book in one day. He completely cut it down page by page. (Daffy looked like Donald in some pictures, etc.) Absolutely learn to draw Looney Tunes characters from the original toons the way the original creators intended them to look. Anything else is the bunk.

Anonymous said...

Hey John K.

It's me Jesse. I orded that book from Preston Blair. But the only one still in print is the one called "Cartoon Animation by P B" The cover had a picture of an elephant and it was $25.00. Did I order the wrong book? Or will this one work as well? Because the yellow cover one is out of print. PLEASE LET ME KNOW!

Jesse

JohnK said...

Hi Jess

the yellow one is not out of print. It's in every art store. They just put a different cover on it. The inside cover is yellow.

Take back the expensive book. It's a big mess.

Anonymous said...

John

I've been every where and can't find it but I'll just keep looking.

Thanks John

Jesse

salad fingers said...

I never knew Bruce Blitz had a show!

"Ugh! Hubert Cumberdale, you taste like soot and poo!"

Evan said...

this all boils down to just laziness right? no one wants to draw every frame as beautifully as they did back then?

i caught a glimpse of foster's home for imaginary friends today, and the characters are always either in straight-on or profile mode, how lame. again i have to mention, "bloo" is the laziest character design i've ever seen in a main character.

Evan said...

i thought bruce blitz sucked by the way, i watched his show a couple times and felt like i could draw better than him. his stuff is bland as can be. he also did gay things like write "love" in a really screwy way and turn it into a drawing of 2 ducks or something. unexcusable.

Marc Deckter said...

THE YELLOW ONE

P.C. Unfunny said...

"this all boils down to just laziness right? no one wants to draw every frame as beautifully as they did back then?"


It has alot to do with the all mighty dollar,limited animation is simply much cheaper and less time consuming then full animation. By the late 1950's, even the WB started using limited animation in there shorts to save money.

JohnK said...

>>t has alot to do with the all mighty dollar,limited animation is simply much cheaper and less time consuming then full animation. By the late 1950's, even the WB started using limited animation in there shorts to save money.<<

bad drawing has nothing to do with money.

BTW, there is more money now being spent on each cartoon than ever in history. Good cartoons could easily be made and they would make a ton of money too, so there's no business excuse for cartoons to have fallen so far.

Evan said...

>>BTW, there is more money now being spent on each cartoon than ever in history.

then why do they ship them overseas to get them animated if the process isn't cheaper?

Anonymous said...

Hi JohnK

I wish to correspond through email with you on something. It's about distributing cartoons through the Internet. Since you are the pioneer of putting cartoons onto the Internet, I thought you are the right man I can talk to.

So many had happen this past few years: Podcasts, iPods, Steam etc. I've been looking forward to seeing cartoons being distributed without any interference from censors, parents or corporate suits, where animators are given free reign to express their creativity without such filters.


my email is madzack898@yahoo.com. Call me Zack.

Trevour said...

That's the first time I've ever seen the *ORIGINAL* original pages! They've got pictures you can't even find in the new book(s).

salad fingers said...

Has anyone seen Hoodwinked? And if you did, what is your opinion on the movie? I'm asking because although I've never seen it, I've heard it reccomended on a radio show. I also heard it was independently produced in the Phillipenes by the Weinstein Brothers.

"I shall call you Milford Cubicle."

Rob Gibson said...

Hey John,

It's cool to see the MGM characters that my version doesn't have. Can't say enough about that book.

What do you think about the Andrew Loomis books? I've spent lots of time drawing out of those as well, I think they're great for learning construction, perspective, proportion and anatomy. "Fun with a pencil" is almost like an early version of Blair's books.

BrianB said...

If you disagree, then don't bother reading the rest of this post. You are blind and have no hope of learning anything.

LOL. Awesome post. One question though John, how do you improve line quality? I've drawn for years and years but have always had very bad line quality.

My handwriting despite 14 years of doing it is still very rough looking. "o's", "b's" and "p's" aren't well rounded, there's a lack of balance to my writing.. No, when I forceably try, I can make it look decent. Not good, but better.

It's always really bothered me because I've always related good shape drawing to good drawing - and get depressed the practice is in vain sometimes People say shapes are the fundamentals of drawing. Obviously so in construction.

What do you suggest for somebody worried about keeping that circle from that first mouse cartoon construction page, as perfect as possible? Or who fears their work getting loose and sloppy and are intimidated by the perfect volume control of a guy like Dean Deblois(seen some simple but beautiful sketches recently) or of course Preston Blair. Is their hope?

Something like a bean being the meat of construction doesn't scare me. I could trace a decent line later, and I could draw organic and asymetrically with adaqueate volume control pretty well - But symetrical design is what really scares me though. It has me constantly doubt my abilities.

Any advice on growing past this would be really really important to me and much appreciated John, thanks.

Sea_creature said...

Thanks so much, John! Awesome material here. Yep, that's why I love the old cartoons so much.

Learning how to 'construct' my drawings was *such* a pivotal time in my artistic development. It's like, now my drawings look PROFESSIONAL! Whoa!

Dr.Awkward said...

I heard Hoodwinked was poorly made, even for something that was supposed to be "low budget". Plus, I never liked the fairy tale concept of Shrek to begin with, and this looks even worse!

By the way, I'd like to know what ever happened to that movie Valiant, the ne about the war pigeons. Boy, did THAT go straight to theaters and out quickly!

David Germain said...

BTW, there is more money now being spent on each cartoon than ever in history. Good cartoons could easily be made and they would make a ton of money too, so there's no business excuse for cartoons to have fallen so far.

Well, studios like to spread that money as thin as possible. The amount of money it would take to make one great episode, they use it to crank out a huge amonut of mediocre episodes. (btw, that's how the South Park creators, Trey Parker & Matt Stone, got started in the business. They learned to do just that).
Anyway, I also have a question. I don't remember seeing Preston Blair's name on any of the credits for the Tom & Jerry cartoons. And yet, he uses many poses of both Tom and Jerry in his book. Did he secretly desire to work on that series?

Of course, if it turns out that Preston DID work on Tom & Jerry, disregard my question.

Anonymous said...

>>> i thought bruce blitz sucked by the way, i watched his show a couple times and felt like i could draw better than him. his stuff is bland as can be.- <<<

Ditto. I only caught his show once, and it was so forgettable that I can hardly remember it. What a piece of rubbish! I tried his "cartooning" kit, and I felt like I was doing illustrations for a Highlights magazine! It looked no different than most animated cartoons at the time, and yet I still think it looks a little better when compared to Family Guy.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry. I just tried to correct a spelling error, and my post was repeated.

last man standing said...

God, I HATED Jerry the mouse! I always wished Tom would just succeed! Once! But noooooo!

Evan said...

its such telling evidence how people are posting every frame of a scene from one of these great old cartoons, and every frame is drawn amazingly well. if we did that with sp or fg, you'd be bored out of your mind looking at them.

JohnK said...

>>What do you suggest for somebody worried about keeping that circle from that first mouse cartoon construction page, as perfect as possible?<<

Practice lots.

benj said...

WOW! The original version that Steve posted on his blog is just AWESOME!

Great post John...
I'll go pratice now!:)

tim kelly said...

Hey, have you guys ever hear of this guy Bruce Blitz, who had that TV show? Feel free to comment.

I've been using his comic strip layout board, for what it's worth.

http://timkelly.livejournal.com/

Shawn said...

I think the industry tried to copy the Ren and Stimpy look back in the 90's, but what they mostly picked up on was the fake 1950's commercials that John did (probably because they were cheaper and easier to do). But they tried to do the flat commercial style to the Ren and Stimpy characters, which John never did. When John drew Ren and Stimpy, they were always fully-constructed. John only used the flat style on the Log commercials and such. Then Games tried to copy that style, used it for the WHOLE show, and sucked! Now every cartoon looks like a bad attempt at being stylized, the way John did in the fake commercials.

When John and Spumco copied the flat 1950's style, it looked authentic, and it didn't look like a 4-year old CHILD drew them. There is a way to draw flat and still have good design and 1950's style. People who are interested in the 1950's advertisement look should check out some books by Taschen. Taschen books reprint old product ads from the 50's with little characters and cartoons on them. They are flat cartoons, but they have good style and design. Compare that art with the crappy cartoons of today, and see how hard modern cartoons are trying to copy that style, and failing miserably.

JohnK said...

>>

When John and Spumco copied the flat 1950's style, it looked authentic,

Well, I don't know about that, but thanks!

Really it was just a nostalgic thing we were doing, because I always liked animated commercials in the 50s and 60s cartoons.

It never dawned on me that THAT was what everyone would copy from the show! And still to this day, yet.

The Butcher said...

"It never dawned on me that THAT was what everyone would copy from the show! And still to this day, yet."

Well, it's easier. That and everyone now a days is so obsessed with being retro.

KenM said...

"They are flat cartoons, but they have good style and design. Compare that art with the crappy cartoons of today, and see how hard modern cartoons are trying to copy that style, and failing miserably."

Yeah, it all comes down to the idea of learning solid principles, which is exactly what John is bringing to light. People are copying the 50's flat style without understanding the basic elements of what makes the original stuff look good (not that I'm any kind of authority, but I'm not out there producing cartoons in this style). So the results are unsuccessful and obnoxious.

And this is happening in other arts as well. I'm a fan of punk, but all these bands that are coming out now and being called punk are just feeble copies of the real deal. And for the same reason -- they've never actually figured out the basic things that made real punk cool. They just latch onto the most obvious aspects and don't go any deeper.

Again, it's all about basic principles being lost and not passed on. It's an unfortunate sign o' the times, I think.

jorge garrido said...

Hey, John! Important questions

WHEN WE COPY THE CLASSIC CARTOON STILL FRAMES, DO YOU DRAW THE SKELETON, LINE OF ACTION, AND THe CRICLES, ETC... or we do we copy it straight ahead?

jorge garrido said...

Ughhh Christopher Hart... Same goes for Bruce Bltiz, who's even worse.

>>I orded that book from Preston Blair. But the only one still in print is the one called "Cartoon Animation by P B" The cover had a picture of an elephant and it was $25.00. Did I order the wrong book? Or will this one work as well? Because the yellow cover one is out of print. PLEASE LET ME KNOW!

YES YOU ORDERED THE WRONG BOOK. NOT THE ELEPHANTS, GET THE ONE WITh THE SQUIRRELS. CANCEL YOUR ORDER.

Does anyone think Prestons second Bulldog was better than the first?

last man standing said...

I have mild Autism, and have been drawing cartoons since I was in Middle School. Do any of you think Autism affects one's cartooning abilities? I'd like to hear a response.

JohnK said...

>>Do any of you think Autism affects one's cartooning abilities? I'd like to hear a response.

I'm no expert, but I don't see why it would. Keep at it!

benj said...

Jorge got a good question there?

WHEN WE COPY THE CLASSIC CARTOON STILL FRAMES, DO YOU DRAW THE SKELETON, LINE OF ACTION, AND THe CRICLES, ETC... or we do we copy it straight ahead?

I try to draw the line of action first, then I draw the shapes (spheres,oval...)then the guide lines and I go on with the details, but all this mix with bit of "copy straight ahead"...:/

I'd really like to hear your thoughts about that John? How do you proceed?

Thanks again for posting on a regular basis, this blog is just awesome.

see ya,
Benjamin A.

Anonymous said...

I actually though Hoodwinked was surprisingly good for an independent film. They used dull colors, and the characters were slightly assymetrical. If only they didn't have that annoying, hideous frog in the movie, though.

JohnK said...

>>I'd really like to hear your thoughts about that John? How do you proceed?


I can't believe how many times people ask me what to do with that book.

Do what he tells you to do!

My whole post explains it step by step-even though his book does too.Copy his pictures in the order of steps he shows you.

Obey the words and the pictures.

Anonymous said...

John is right about this.

It is more than a little weird how often someone will say exactly HOW they approach something--i.e., drawing(but it could be writing as well), and then continue to be asked, "Well, THEN what? What do I do after that? Is this the right book? Really?? Is this the right pen? Which paper do you recommend? How do you have your desk setup at Spumco? ETC ETC ETC..." I'm not sure but I suspect it comes from a bit of (natural) fear about getting started DOING it, and FINISHING it. Will it stink? Probably, to start with. Isn't there a magic pencil/technique/secret? Nope. it's all just plain old trial and error and practice.

JUST DRAW. KEEP drawing. Quit asking questions and unintentionally stalling and just buy the book and get going. Get away from the keyboard for a week, even.
This is meant with all the best wishes in the world, btw. Not meant to be insulting, just honest.

P.C. Unfunny said...

"bad drawing has nothing to do with money."

And it dosen't, but fully animating a drawing dose, dose it not ?


"BTW, there is more money now being spent on each cartoon than ever in history. Good cartoons could easily be made and they would make a ton of money too, so there's no business excuse for cartoons to have fallen so far."

Isn't it alot cheaper to spend less money on several crappy cartoons then spending more money on several good ones ? That sounds like what Craptoon Network is doing.

Robert Hume said...

Hey John, thanks so much for these posts! I learned the fundamentals of animation from reading Preston Blair's book as well, but I'm going to go back and draw and redraw those cartoon characters and animation frames over and over again anyways to try and refresh my self and hopefully improve my drawing skills! 3d animation is an abomination, and has distroyed my desire to animate...I must find a way to escape it(3d that is)!!!

-Rob

tim kelly said...

I have mild Autism, and have been drawing cartoons since I was in Middle School. Do any of you think Autism affects one's cartooning abilities? I'd like to hear a response.

If anything, your (presumed) attention to detail might help you master your craft. It varies from person to person, though. My daughter is autistic and only drew once... on the wall!

Speaking of which, I did a comic about her last year entitled Springtime for Autism. John, I handed you a copy of that and my regular fictional stuff (Free Summer Franks) last year in San Diego. My newest stuff is on my livejournal, and I'd welcome any criticism you might have.

randi said...

Anonymous said...
John is right about this.

It is more than a little weird how often someone will say exactly HOW they approach something--i.e., drawing(but it could be writing as well), and then continue to be asked, "Well, THEN what? What do I do after that? Is this the right book? Really?? Is this the right pen? Which paper do you recommend? How do you have your desk setup at Spumco? ETC ETC ETC..." I'm not sure but I suspect it comes from a bit of (natural) fear about getting started DOING it, and FINISHING it. Will it stink? Probably, to start with. Isn't there a magic pencil/technique/secret? Nope. it's all just plain old trial and error and practice.

JUST DRAW. KEEP drawing. Quit asking questions and unintentionally stalling and just buy the book and get going. Get away from the keyboard for a week, even.
This is meant with all the best wishes in the world, btw. Not meant to be insulting, just honest.


Amen, my anonymous brother or sister! I'm just floored by the questions about the PB book that appear over and over. It's EIGHT DOLLARS. It's on AMAZON. THAT'S IT. SHUT UP AND BUY IT.

I think you're spot-on, Anonymous The 137th, regarding the secret reason so many people let themselves get hung up on tools and stuff. "Oh, if only I had the perfect lamp and my desk was made of candy, THEN I could really let loose."

Arrrghh! Just draw the damned thing already! (I'm mostly writing this to remind myself to stop screwing around.)

I can't help wondering why it doesn't seem perfectly logical that construction is absolutely crucial. We use it when we draw from life, don't we? We want to bring our characters to life, don't we? (Unless we are Cathy Guisewhite, of course.) Is it really that much of a stretch??

I'm cranky, I grant you, but if I have to read another comment about how to draw a circle or where to buy The Yellow One With The Squirrel, I'm going to get physical.

DRAW! DRAW! Shut up and DRAW! In fact, I'm going to shut up and draw now. Great post, John, as always.

Oh, and Hoodwinked would have been almost serviceable if not for that RETARDED frog, as mentioned by another poster. What a misstep that was. I absolutely hated him. And it's not as if there's a frog in the f'in story to begin with that they were forced to grapple with. "Oh, what will we do with this frog we must include??" I'd like a few seconds in the ring with the shithead who said, "Let's give him a British accent!"

Pedro Vargas said...

Hi, John!

I was wondering if you could take the time to look at my post about how I constructed one of my own characters. I wanted to see what you thought about it and see what I might need to fix and all. I would very much appreciate it.

Thanks in advance,

Pedro Vargas

Stephen Worth said...

We had a volunteer day at the ASIFA Archive today, and John stopped by to see the original of the Preston Blair book, have a hot dog and watch a cartoon with us. He mentioned that the pages of the book are a little out of order as to how they present the material. He's going to comment on them in the proper order in upcoming postings. He's started with the two most basic pages.

Your instructions (Follow them to the letter):

Go to the Archive Blog and click on those two pages.

Print out the large scans.

Do everything it says to do on those two pages.

Yes, this means you have to draw that chipmunk face on an egg and then draw it from various angles.

Yes, this means that you have to CONSTRUCT the two dogs heads, the wolf heads, the crows, Droopy, the goat and the fox. Draw every pose on both pages over and over till you get it right. Post your best drawings on your website.

Don't cheat and skip over steps. You're not just learning to draw a goat... You're learning a process. If you cheat, you'll only be cheating yourself.

As soon as you've all done everything on these two pages, you'll be ready for John to post the next step.

You're getting drawing lessons from one of the greatest living cartoonists. Appreciate that opportunity. Don't waste it. There are people who would kill to have this chance. Get to work.

See ya
Steve

cableclair said...

Thanks so much! Both Steve and John. I've just started my constructing attempts. I'm sucking eggs so far! I'm having great difficulties drawing neat circles and ellipses, symetry has never been my strongest point, I can't even spell the word I think haha, buuuut I'm practicing on it like mad so eventually I'll get the hang of it. Yesss.
I'll have to embrace the two magical P's.

Patience.
Practice.

I'm always in awe of people who have patience. If you have any spare patience laying around, you know, just in a corner somewhere I'll gladly take it with me ;-).

Thanks for the wonderful sheets. They make me glee, especially the Avery ones.

Jason_Chatfield said...

Will start today.

Evan said...

john- i wasn't trying to be a smartass or anything, i really would like to know why are companies are spending more money on cartoons now than ever and they're getting animated overseas? is it quicker that way or what? what's their reasoning behind it?

last man standing said...

Thanks, John and Tim, for your encouraging words. Oh, and by the way, what did you think about "Space Jam"? I thought it was pretty crummy, typical of the pop culture of the late '90's.

Josh "Just What the Doctor Ordered" Heisie said...

Well, thanks to you I have tracked down THE RIGHT Preston Blair book. Maybe one day I won't suck.

How come Preston Blair changed some of the drawings since the original book? Look at Steve Worth's site and at my own book, the squirrel is a lot cuter and stuff in mine...

Dr.Awkward said...

r.e "Family Guy"

That guy's right. But even THAT is better than "American Dad'! Sheesh, that show's so bad, it makes FG look like a classic!

salad fingers said...

Dear John, (no pun intended)

I enjoyed the first season, and the first couple of episodes of the second, of R&S, and, like most other people, didn't care for the Nick episodes. But, and I'm only speaking for myself here, I thought the NEW new ones were just a little TOO low brow, especially the overt homosexual innuendos. Anyways, that's just my opinion, and I'm not trying to change your ways or anything like that.

"May I enquire about your spoons?"

Anonymous said...

>>> Oh, and by the way, what did you think about "Space Jam"? I thought it was pretty crummy, typical of the pop culture of the late '90's. <<<

Right on, LAST MAN STANDING. It's like almost every aspect of of American pop culture (at least what was left over) was becoming hyper-commercialized from '97 to somewhere in the '00's, and thus, all creativity and talent were sucked out in sacrifice for more money. Hip hop became mainstream, pop stars became big, and almost every show/movie/song/musician/celebrity/news moment of the time had gotten so popular, they were practically memorized with parodies and jokes milked out of them. Take Blaire Witch, for instance. I got so sick of hearing about that piece of sh*t hype, and yet they made reference to it in Scary Movie, which made me want to projectile vomit onto the screen! And things in the '00's haven't gotten much better; some things have even gotten worse!

MikeMatei said...

stevenworth. I'm taking your advice and trying to draw some pages out of the preston blair book.
cableclair is right though. Drawing good egg shapes IS tough.

Anonymous said...

>>Draw every pose on both pages over and over till you get it right. Post your best drawings on your website.

Will there be a there a "post your progress" post to respond to, or do we post links to our progress here?

Kristin said...

Heh, it's funny you sed that Evan. I watch fosters sometimes and I see nothing but the same looks over and over. It's like this...

:) happy

:( sad

it's just to easy. the creater of the show probably thought of bloo when he was on the toilet.

Look at this picture I made just right now!

http://img171.imageshack.us/img171/6064/bloo4bp.png

Kristin said...

Oops! I got the URL wrong, try

http://img171.imageshack.us/my.php?
image=bloo4bp.png

Sorry for spamming on you're blog John!

Anonymous said...

American Dad has better writing than Family Guy even though it gets a lot of shit. The plots are more linear, the character's have more depth, and it manages to do what South Park critisizes FG for not doing, using jokes derived from the plot.

I'm not a huge fan of either show, especiailly teh animation, but this was in response to "Dr. Awkwards" comment that FG looks like a classic compared to American Dad.

If you look closely, American Dad has a less "cheap" humor if that makes any sense

Dr.Awkward said...

You're probably right. American Dad is more political than Family Guy (although not as much recently), but less reference-heavy.

Clinton said...

Preston Blair was the first animation book that I bought. I passed all of my 2D animation classes with his frame-by-frame example. I also suggest Richard William's 'Animator's Survival Guide'.

David Germain said...

I also suggest Richard William's 'Animator's Survival Guide'.

I leafed through that book a bit and saw some good stuff. However, on this blog, John has already mentioned that book and called it a big piece of donkey doo-doo. (I'm just paraphrasing though).

Josh "Just What the Doctor Ordered" Heisie said...

I found that the Richard William book has some very good theories, if you want to do Disney realistic type animation, but it's not cartoony at all.

It also has some really annoying drawings in it. I prefer the Preston Blair book, myself, but I don't regard the Richard William book as complete crap.

Richard Williams said...

Thanks.

Evan said...

kristin- nice work haha. you're cartoon network material!

the backgrounds on Foster's are really pretty in a flat way, i'll give them that.

NateBear said...

awesome. i might be ahead of the game since i actually drew from this book and studied it as a kid.

and i always noticed the same thing about the merch vs the real cartoons.

i wonder if i can save myself 8 bucks and find it among my boxes of art books...

thanks for posting excellent art lessons! for free even!

jorge garrido said...

>>
I can't believe how many times people ask me what to do with that book.

Do what he tells you to do! <<

THATS NOT WHAT I ASKED JOHN.

I asked whether we draw the balls and circles when we copy screenshots and still frames from cartoons. He replied:

>>I try to draw the line of action first, then I draw the shapes (spheres,oval...)then the guide lines and I go on with the details, but all this mix with bit of "copy straight ahead"...:/

I'd really like to hear your thoughts about that John? How do you proceed? <<

It wasn't about the book. Any idiot can follow instructions from a book, nobody had told me whetehr to draw straihgt ahead or do the skeletons and balls procedure when copying frames.

>> DRAW! DRAW! Shut up and DRAW! In fact, I'm going to shut up and draw now. Great post, John, as always. <<

I AM, but I jsut had a question about copying frames. SHEESH!

On another note, I seem to have mispalced my psot on Space Jam... Has anyone seen it?

Anonymous said...

When I was in college, studying animation, I saw a lot of people get carried away with Preston Blair. Every year you'd see people turning in the same Blair knock-off walk cycles. Towards the end the Richard Williams book came out, and you started to see weak robotic copies of the 'Milt Kahl strut'

Both are excellent resources for sure, but don't ape them. Too many students seem to see them as a grab bag of formulas to swipe from. They are not. Study them, learn the approach and the fundamentals. But find your own way and do your own thing.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jorge Garrido

Youngster, you must've put your post on the one ABOVE this article, thinking it was for this one, but THAT was the one for a NEWER John K post. You see, the way blogs work is, the NEWER posts appear HIGHER, NOT LOWER. I know it defies common sense, but that's just the way it works. Sorry for the misunderstanding; I'm just clarifying that for you.

PS- I've replied to your post on that other post I've mentioned, if you care to read it.

Anonymous said...

>>nobody had told me whetehr to draw straihgt ahead or do the skeletons and balls procedure when copying frames<<

Bottom line (excuse the pun):

For drawing still frames, life or imagination:
Don't just copy lines and angles and landmarks, get used to reverse-engineering the whole thing to the 3D shapes and skeleton.

No more flat drawing. You're not a Xerox machine.

william wray said...

Holy Fuck ! Only waited 30 years for this day. Thanks Jerry!

jorge garrido said...

>>Youngster, you must've put your post on the one ABOVE this article, thinking it was for this one, but THAT was the one for a NEWER John K post. You see, the way blogs work is, the NEWER posts appear HIGHER, NOT LOWER. I know it defies common sense, but that's just the way it works. Sorry for the misunderstanding; I'm just clarifying that for you.

Yeah you're probably right. Also, John's post about the art show probably ocnfused me further.

>For drawing still frames, life or imagination:
Don't just copy lines and angles and landmarks, get used to reverse-engineering the whole thing to the 3D shapes and skeleton.
Thank you.

Stephen Worth said...

Hi Jorge

Right now, draw from those two pages in the book. John will give you instructions on how to draw from videos when he gets to that.

See the jump page for all of the materials related to John's Animation School posts at...

The $100,000 Animation Drawing Course

See ya
Steve

Habbit said...

I grew up reading PB's Animation, and although I never got into animation, the book was fundamental in giving me an understanding of character design. Much better than "How To Draw The Marvel Way" thats for sure. I always liked PB's dancing alligator best.

Lee said...

Mr. Kricfalusi: Thanks for taking the interest and making the time to put together such a wonderful and informative post. I've picked up some good tips just from the quick read. (My art teacher never had us wrap the construction lines around to the back of the form... which I know has caused me problems in the past. I'm going to start doing that now!)

Even though I'm well past the target age for your posts, I intend to follow along as best as I can (responsibilities permitting). I need a lot of practise though, so I may not have anything to show you for some time yet!

Anonymous said...

John, love the blog and the images from the original Blair book.

My question is that you stress "young artist." I hope you mean that in terms of "inexperience" vs. age. I've doodled all my life, but am only now (at the ripe age of 40) taking the process more seriously, having never had formal training. But I'd like to think that there's still hope and possibility for an old timer like me to get good and, potentially, work.

trophiogrande said...

Here are my drawings for lesson #1, I will scan in the drawings for #2 and #3 tommorrow.

http://trophiogrande.blogspot.com/2006/05/learning-animation-1-john-kricfalusi.html

Stephen Worth said...

I just updated the Students Blogroll at the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive Blog. Please make sure your assignments are posted there, so it's easier for John to find them.

Lesson One: Construction- The Head
Lesson Two: Squash & Stretch- The Head
Lesson Three: Proportions-Checking Your Work

If your blog posts aren't listed there, or if I have listed them on the wrong page, please email me at sworth@animationarchive.org and I will add you to the list.

Have fun!
Stephen Worth
Director
ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive
http://www.animationarchive.org

Anonymous said...

I always thought that most of today's creators were forced to use that flat style.

Austin said...

My Page 0 practise drawings. John K you rule, thanks for pushing us through this book.

Anonymous said...

I love your website. It has a lot of great pictures and is very informative.
»

Anonymous said...

Your website has a useful information for beginners like me.
»

Anonymous said...

Great site loved it alot, will come back and visit again.
»

Anonymous said...

Nice idea with this site its better than most of the rubbish I come across.
»

antikewl said...

I'm somewhat behind, but here's the first part of lesson one. I'm not happy with these look yet so I'll keep working on them.

I'm also going to dig out my scanner and hope it scans better than the one I used for these two!

antikewl.com/animation

Jess Green said...

Hi John,

I really enjoy your blog and have been a huge fan for years! Anyways, I did lesson 1 of the "online course" and since I haven't any idea if you'll get this post, anyone can find my work at http://www.geocities.com/sockmonkery/
lesson1a.html
Thanks, Jess

Tibby101 said...

Wow. I just came by this and I am so impressed I'm going to sign up and start the classes ASAP. I have the Preston Blair book and had it since the begining of my time at Art school. Yes - I was a fool and spent about $27,000+ on a Animation Associates degree. And I am still looking for a job in animation - I graduated in 1998.

Preston's book has been absolutely invalueble to me. But I haven't truely looked at it like I should have. Now I am eagerly going to delve back into it. And with your help, I hope to become a master cartoonist/animator as well.

I love Ren and Stimpy and
(ex)Spumco work - John, your my greatest admired inspirational cartoonist. Keep up the great work and thank you lots and lots for delving out all this info.

Joe Berenguer said...

Hey Fellow, you have a great blog here! I have a web
site & blog about games center.
Yours is top-notch!
If you have a moment, please visit my site
games center
I wish you all the best!

Andy J. Latham said...

This is a fantastic blog. I've just started an animation blog if anyone is interested in having a look.

Keep up the good work!

Sarah said...

hey john, i have been practicing head construction and it's been super helpful. i used it automatically when i drew this picture for class:

http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/35512652/

thanks for posting the lessons!

Gavin Freitas said...

Thank John for posting this up. Anothr great post......

Anonymous said...

Hi John !

I'm a bit late but I was wondering if I can still participate ? Just ordered the book and started a blog...drawing like crazy.

Fill That Moleskine !

Anonymous said...

Hello my Name is Arie and I would seriously like to participate in this if at all still possible. I Bought the preston blair book like 3 years ago and was like wow this is a great deal. I had seen it many time before in my local library and drew from it alot as a child.

Though I am 27 and I have technically passed the age you say a person learns best to be an artist I still each day plug away cause I have always wanted to be an animator and I always thought the only way to do it was to go to animation school but, there was no animation anything in the area I lived in.

After studying art and jumping from school to school I finally worked up the balls to leave my home town and go to school in dover nj. I had never had loans before that cause I paid for every thing myself and I figured it was about time i made a big sacifice.

Unfortunately I also made a big mistake. The animation program here blows chunks. I have never felt so low and frustrated about art in my entire life. Between animation teacher quiting and loosing close friends that couldn't stand wasting there money anymore and not to mention the other bull**** teachers that know nothing about the animation industy and don't care to learn even though they are teaching my classes and the other political bull**** the school pulls on it's students I have been feeling like my world has been coming to the end.

60,000 dollars and i am not even sure i will have enough skill to get a job as an animator when I leave here. My one saving grace is my amazing animation teacher who we only have class with one day a week.

I love his work and he is amazing but one day a week animating is frustrating. The other days I am bombarded with other random art classes giving me constant busy work just to take up all my extra time that I could be spending actually trying to animate.

Thus is the reason I would like to participate if it isn't already too late.this is one thing I would make time to do cause I want to be the best I can. I feel like I am running out of time. Anyway I have a website and a blog (I rarely update to blog)

website:
http://homepage.mac.com/drawlikecrazy/index.htm

SlashHalen said...

Hey John, hows it going?

Well, I'm pretty sure that I'm kinda late to actually be apart of these lessons, but I'm gonna follow all your posts anyways.

I've just recently started thinking about what I want to do with my life, and honestly, cartoons was my best choice. I used to not be able to draw for shit. Then I tried one of the heads from Blaire, and it was probably my best drawing in years. Shanks for the info.

I've only been doing this for less then a month, but I'm not quiting. Though I'm gonna need to find time from school, work, and guitar lessons. And I need to get a scanner that actually scans.

Shanks again man. I know you may never read this, but I just had to say it.

Stephen said...

I'm not an artist, but John has inspired me to pick up a pencil and follow these lessons. Even though I'm late and there are apparently no new lessons, I'm going through Preston Blair's book step by step to learn what I can. Any comments on my drawings are welcome.

http://meetingedges.blogspot.com

Stephen

Double Dutch said...

Well, I hope it's not too late to join in on this. I think I have a pretty good idea of how construction works, but there's a difference between having an idea and showing that you can demonstrate that idea, so I'll start from the first lesson. Thank you for posting a useful lesson. I'll finish it as soon as I can.

scott said...

Hi John, better late then never. I'm starting your lessons from lesson 1. I think I improved a whole bunch in since I started the lesson today. If you want to see my stuff, click the link below. There is a sample there right on my blog, and below that sample are links to the first and second pages. Now I have to go and sharpen my pencil and get some more paper, and draw these heads at different angles!

Click here to see my stuff

tzed-kh said...

Hi JohnK!

I have seen a clip of your works and it was beautiful. It was a movieclip showcasing works of artists, cartoonists and animators. Then when I saw it your name rang a bell..

I would like to learn your style and techniques 'very soon' that I couldn't wait to buy a Preston Blair book, so I used the images you've uploaded instead (but i'll still buy the book-don't worry). I'd be glad to take your lessons and have my 'plates' corrected by you.

Please teach me. Thank you.

Here's Plate#1: Head Construction
http://tzedkha.blogspot.com/

cancan said...

I'll admit disney style doesn't show better skill then many others. But there is no way you can claim it's the best, in the end all it is is a cheesy goofy kiddy entertainment.Half the people here like it becuase of good memories have as a kid, nowadays only kids are actually starting to get into it.Do you seriously think that an average person of today would prefer to watch your goofy disney style over something that is actually more deep,for example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qo75Xz68h3c

Ok the next link i post will have really cheesy art, but the story and adventure the art compliments is a million times better than anything that came from disney before. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hczLlPqhJls

evreytime I look back at a disney animation I agree that the actually animation and movement/posing is good, but everything else about is is cheesy and makes me want to vomit, I would tolerate it at least if it had a good story but it doesn't even have that.

Animator - Mark Maund said...

I started using Preston Blairs' Advanced Animation book after my mom bought it for me as a birthday present. I still have it! It was quite possibly the best tutorial type book that I have ever used. It was a GREAT stepping stone for me in my quest to become a professional animator and I still refer to it even today, though I am more of a 3D Animator now. I highly recommend this book to everyone!!!

artisan21 said...

Hello, Mr. Kricfalusi,

I enjoy studying Preston Blair's book on Animation and I have my own copy of it. In fact, I have some studies of the first page of drawings from the book. You can find them at www.theanimatorscorner.blogspot.com. Please feel free to look them over and tell me what you think.

–Steve Peck
Saint Paul, MN

Andrew said...

http://andrewblondin.blogspot.com/

I've done the first bit, a few drawings are missing, but i did draw them

crolyss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shivani said...

Is this still goin on..as Ive started my lessons..& wuld be working on them & then loading on my new blog..Let me know..I really want to work on it..!!

Mattieshoe said...

>>American Dad has better writing than Family Guy even though it gets a lot of shit. The plots are more linear, the character's have more depth, and it manages to do what South Park critisizes FG for not doing, using jokes derived from the plot.



The most I can say about American Dad is that I can at least watch it for a full minute before turning off the TV in disgust.


It still makes me feel depressed and stupid when I watch it for more then about a couple of minutes.

Joe Shnook said...

Thanks John. I'm starting to draw from the Preston Blair book. Animation home schooling as it were...

Paul said...

Hi John. Thanks for putting this course on the web! This whole blog has been an excellent source of inspiration. Lots and lots to take in, so I thought I'd buy the Preston Blair book and have a go. Here is my attempt at lesson 1, a bit rusty but I think I've made progress on practise 3.... I hope!

http://www.whippey.org.uk/?p=43

Thanks again, Paul.

Paul said...

Whoops! Sorry, clickable link to my lesson 1 attempt:

http://www.whippey.org.uk/?p=43

Thanks!

Paul.

Idyllopuspress said...

Lesson 1 d

These are the other heads from lesson 1. This is so much fun. I'm having more and more fun every day. I can't wait to do lesson 2.

H.o.p.

teyem said...

I know this is an old lesson but I am trying to catch up. John if you still check these comments here is my work.

Part 1
Part 2

pigsnoot said...

John you are the lost true God of animation, I grew up on your stuff, I saw Ren & Stimpy airing on BBC late night in 1993, damn It has influenced my whole perspective on humor and life!
I'm searching to find all your stuff, like weekend pussy hunt and the Yogi stuff.... you used to have such a cool spumco site, I really miss it!!
Please keep making animation!!!!

Rain said...

Hi John!
My name is Dariel Filwood. I recently started the 100,000$ Animation Course. Here is a link to my blog where the two first lessons are posted :

http://darielfilwoodartblog.blogspot.com/

If you could take a look and give me some feedback, it would be appreciated!
Thanks

TWill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TWill said...

Hey John,
Just started your cartooning college and wanted to post lesson 1.

Tyler's Lesson 1

Also wanted to say that I appreciate all of the knowledge that you are sharing with us. Thanks

johnathane said...

As a creator myself, i would welcome the change and finally wrote my memories to them. I found your post very informative. Good on you.
3d animation courses

RoyceAquatic said...

Hi John

I've recently been practicing some of your lessons, hope to hear from you, thanks for all the tips

Royce Lessons

RoyceAquatic said...

Hi John i did more lessons for lesson 1 what do you think?

Here
And Here

Dan Jhonny Valentine said...

Thanks Maestro Jhon for holding this,i just start doing this,please take a small look on my blog and see my first characters,it really helps a good work,Im new to this..Thanks Jhon K

http://danionutvalentin.blogspot.com/2009/12/day-1-animation-lesson.html

notnoah said...

Just getting started on following these lessons. Here is lesson 1 part 1.

sam challis said...

Here are my latest head construction drawings here

JOS-L ART said...

Some more sketches from Lesson 1
here

Have a good day!

Beef Witted Klingon said...

John, just got my blog up - i was not sure if u wanted every example posted - i just gave you some "highlights" if nothing else my attempts will make other artists feel better about their work:

http://www.beefwittedklingon.blogspot.com/

if i need to change anything about this blog let me know or please someone point me in the right direction!

Rachel Newstead said...

John,

The more I look at these drawings, the more I'd like to improve my cartooning and give the Blair book another try.

I'd be more than willing to put up a special blog for my drawings alone if you don't mind critiquing the work of someone way over the age range you usually work with (I'm 48).

RobochaoXX said...

I gotta get that book and read this blog religiously.

Thank you!

Hannah said...

Thank you for this, though I hate to say this, but I'm 17 and I always have used construction lines on my cartoons. I don't know I thought it was always obvious, in drawing books and things that I had when I was younger, lol- I hope no-one thinks I'm a smart arse.

MistahB said...

John K.

Thanks for all the lessons that you've posted here. It started motivating me in cartooning the right way! I'm sure to study on the Preston Blair book and use your principles to get me where I need to be!

Mckay B.

JOS-L ART said...

Some more head construction sketches

here

John said...

Hi John,

Just enrolled myself on your course and did lesson one,

My drawings are online Here:
http://paintthemeggs.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/johnkcurriculum-lesson1/

Thanks,
John

Phil said...

Uh...guys...I have no idea how to use a light box. Do I draw the circles and put another paper on that, and another paper on that? I'm unable to find anything on here that shows me exactly how that works. Is it here and I just can't find it? Is there another website I can go to that will show me?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.

John said...

Hi Phil,

I assumed the light box was for actually animating rather than these drawing exercises. I've just been using a blue pencil to get the basic shapes down and then going over it with a normal pencil to add details and tidy up.

Maybe I'm wrong though?? I don't own a light box yet, but luckily our dinner table is made of glass so I just pop a lamp under it. I haven't animated in ages since I've realised I need to learn to draw properly first.

John

Dattaprasad said...

Its more reporting than submission of assignments.Here's my JohnK assignments blog.

Regine! said...

Alright, here's what I've done:

http://reginefrancoisab.blogspot.com/2010/08/preston-blair-assignment-1.html

I confess to not really paying much attention to construction lines before, but they are actually really helpful.

Thanks!

CartoonLoser! said...

Dear John,
For a while now I have been following your animation school lessions, taking down notes,copying out the pictures ect. I really apprecate what your giving out its helping alot! but I have a problem. Im 14 and still at school. I am working my butt of to try and achieve to be a animator because youve inspired me so much. But, well my mum is saying to me doing this isnt going to get my anywhere and its really putting me down. Shes saying for me to get better is to draw real life things and objects and to focus on what my art teacher is telling me, and of course I am!...But honestly, will it do me any good if I practice on still life? And if I want to become an animator then what should I be doing to make me better? still life and your lessions?
If you could, please reply to this. It would mean the world to me. Thanks, your my inspiration for being what I wanna be :')
love Amanda xxx

DaveLEWIS said...

Hi Jogn, I loved your Ren and Stimpy cartoons after school each day.

Here is my progress:

http://dl3drawingrelearn.blogspot.com/

Best Wishes

DaveLEWIS ( 3D Artist )

DaveLEWIS said...

Hi John,

I forgot to tick the email box.

DaveLEWIS

JohnK said...

>>Shes saying for me to get better is to draw real life things and objects and to focus on what my art teacher is telling me, and of course I am!...But honestly, will it do me any good if I practice on still life?<<

Hi Amanda

if you have a good teacher who can draw and explain how things look, then that will be helpful. If you wanna be a cartoonist, then my lessons will get you there faster than most cartoon lessons.

It doesn't hurt to learn more than one drawing skill.

Good luck!

Mike DeBrosse said...

Hi John,
I just wanted to say that even though this post is years old its brought a recent art school graduate back to the basics to learn the proper steps that my art school washed over. It's very tough and i don't know if you will read this but its so rewarding to see my drawings look like the book after so many tries. I know its not your book but you did inspire me and i feel like you have taught me so much already just by your posts. I cant wait to continue!
Thank You!,
Michael

rich said...

John,
I am a civil draftsman by trade and can draw maps all day long either by hand or by autocad. That being said, I can't draw a stickman on paper to save my life but I have been trying to learn computer animation with a couple of cheap programs. I have learned the animation part of it fairly quickly but my drawing skills had been really lacking a lot. Since I found your site and started using some of these techniques and fundamentals, my drawings are actually starting to look a little bit professional. With a lot more practice and learning, would I be able to get a job only being able to draw by computer and not by hand? And thanks for all of the free help, by the way!

Damiano D said...

Hi John, I just finished an extensive study on Head construction through your guidance on your blog from the Preston Blair Books. I was wondering if you could have a quick look and give me some pointers. Thanks in advance.

Link: http://www.damianosketchblog.blogspot.com/

or just go to my profile where a link is available.

David said...

Hi John
Just found out about your cartoon college so I decided to join in instantly. Ive started uploading part of the lesson already and I'm still working on it to make sure I can do these fundamentals to the fullest.

I've noticed alot of people havent followed the instructions properly and havent drawn all the heads into different positions.

Well I intend to improve so I am doing this properly.

Here is a link to my blog
Would appreciate comments, pointers and advice
http://myartfrenzy.blogspot.com/

Thanks for doing this

Mattieshoe said...

I know my odds of receiving feedback at this point dwindle, but just in case, Here's what I've got to turn in so far after lesson 1, John.

http://mattienotes.blogspot.com/2011/07/john-k-lesson-1-part-1.html

Thanks for the lessons! They're saving aspiring cartoonists like me thousands, John.

jrmybrbr13 said...

Hello John. I was curious as to how an artist can go about getting an interview with a studio for animation. I have been drawing cartoons since I was 12 using most of these principles. I had an animation "how to", but I cant remember if it was this book or not. The book had a lot of the same principles, I remember, and it taught me a lot. Since then I spent many years doing graffiti art, which I still do mural work. I also went through an apprenticeship for tattooing 15 years ago , and have been doing that ever since. I am fairly well known as a tattoo artist and mural artist. But the thing that started it all, my true love, and what I still spend most of my "doodling" time on, is animation. (I remember being strongly influenced by R.Crumb comics as well.) You've stated on here that many people don't want the "hard" jobe in animation. If tattooing has taught me anything, it is that being humble and putting in work will teach you a lot about a trade. Sorry about the long post, but if you have any advice for someone as to how they can get in touvh with a few studios, to go over their work and work ethic, I would really appreciate it. Thank you. J Barber.

Alex Printz said...

Hey john, not sure if its too late to run the gauntlet here, but I'd really appreciate it if you took a gander at my work. Assignment 1 & 2 are finished, with assignment 3 to be started in a day or two.

http://animatortocartoonist.blogspot.com/

Top Cat toy drawings for me in the meantime! Thanks!

-Alex

paul said...

John, I meant to post my exercise on here.



Animation Drawing Lesson 1:Part !

Please tell me what do you think, 'cause that was my first time posting my lesson to you

Luke said...

Hi John, just thought I would point out that the link to the original Preston Blair book no longer works. This link should work.

http://www.animationarchive.org/?p=2091

doctorshock said...

when i was a kid in the early 1960 , i loved watching an artist on t. v. JON GNAGY , ball , cone , square , etc , and you can draw anything , check him out on youtube

pratima patil said...

Hey John
Thanks for sharing wonderful post you explained it so well. For students taking animation courses will be a great start. Keep posting.
Have a nice day.

Sarah Renae said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Emery Miller said...

Hi Everyone,
Here's my first crack at Lesson 1.
http://emerydesignonline.blogspot.com/2014/04/cartoon-college-week-1.html
http://emerydesignonline.blogspot.com/2014/05/john-ks-cartoon-college-lesson-1.html

Please check them out if you have a minute!
Thanks,
Emery